by Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) With Paolo Romero, 15 Feb 2020
MANILA, Philippines — As the world celebrated Valentine’s Day yesterday, an official of the Commission on Population (PopCom) advised teenagers not to rush into sex to avoid getting pregnant early.
PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez said teenagers now should be more discerning and should always listen to their elders, parents and teachers.
“They should focus on their dreams.They must know that they will carry the consequence of early child bearing for a lifetime. It comes with all sorts of problems a young mother encounters, like lacking financial means to support their child and getting sick,” Perez said at the Pandesal Forum in Quezon City.
Perez said PopCom is using the tagline “Piliin ang pangarap, ‘wag ipagpalit sa panandaliang sarap,” in its campaign against teenage pregnancy.
He said it is during Valentine’s Day when most teens admit to having had their first sexual encounter.
“At seven this morning,we were at the Legarda Station of the LRT (Light Rail Transit). We wanted to make a call to all 21 million Filipino adolescents, male or female, to be more discerning today, Valentine’s Day.”
For her part, Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago noted that according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), there are 1.2 million adolescent Filipinos who have already given birth in the last 10 years.
UNFPA said the Philippines has one of the highest birth rates of women aged 15 to 19 among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), slated at 47 births per 1,000 women, behind Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia.
Elago said, “The implications of such high incidence are far-reaching. Financially, UNFPA estimates that the country is losing P33 billion annually due to lost opportunities and additional burdens brought by teenage pregnancy.”
The amount is enough for 50,000 classrooms and 500 more gymnasiums and sports facilities for schools, she noted.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said yesterday that the country should adopt a comprehensive education program on human trafficking to help prevent sexual exploitation of Filipino children.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education, issued the statement at the conclusion of the National Awareness Week for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.
He said such a program will arm the youth with vital information and protection measures against online sexual exploitation of children and other forms of trafficking.
He said the proposed program will put grassroots reporting mechanisms in place, which will empower communities to pursue decisive action against heinous criminals.
Research compiled in the US Department of Labor’s report “2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor” shows the Philippines as the top global internet source of online sexual exploitation of children. –